Sheriff refuses to accept guilty pleas

A man’s guilty pleas were rejected after he revealed he had only pleaded because he could not get a lawyer to come to Shetland.

Andrew Crawford, from Alloa, tried to plead guilty to two assault charges at a hearing at Lerwick Sheriff Court today (Thursday).

But the 50-year-old, representing himself over the phone, said he did not agree with the charges against him and had wanted to put his version of events across in court.

Crawford said that no lawyer had been “willing to travel to Shetland” to represent him, though, so decided to plead guilty instead.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said he could only accept a plea of guilty if someone accepted their guilt – and if not, the matter would have to proceed to a trial.

Both Crawford and his co-accused, 50-year-old Paul McKenna, are accused of a string of incidents at the NorthLink ferry terminal in Holmsgarth on 30th March.

Crawford is accused of assaulting one NorthLink employee by hitting him on the head, pulling his head down and attempting to knee him in the head.

He is also accused of punching another NorthLink employee, a woman, on the head.

But asked about the incidents by Sheriff Cruickshank, Crawford denied that version of events.

In relation to punching the female NorthLink employee, Crawford said: “She grabbed a hold of me from behind. I did hit her but I didn’t know what was going on.”

McKenna, from West Dunbartonshire, has been charged with assaulting a police officer and struggling violently with police, as well as making sexually suggestive gestures to them.

He is also accused of failing to give details without a reasonable excuse.

McKenna denies all of the charges.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said he was “clearly not accepting” Crawford’s version of the story, and the matter would have to proceed to trial.

Sheriff Cruickshank agreed, saying he could not accept Crawford’s guilty pleas “given the explanation given”.

The case will go to trial on 2nd November, with Crawford told he would either have to represent himself or find a solicitor in that time.


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